2011 Nissan Titan
    MSRP
    $34,940
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    2011 Nissan Titan Expert Review:New Car Test Drive

    Power and capability in a full-size pickup.

    Introduction

    The Nissan Titan is a full-size pickup with lots of power, ample capabilities and a level of refinement for price that adds to its appeal. There are two body styles: The King Cab has rearward-opening rear doors. The Crew Cab is a conventional four-door configuration and offers a choice of short or long cargo beds. The only engine is a very powerful 5.6-liter V8 that makes 317 horsepower; it is matched to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Titan is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive and has a maximum towing capacity of 9,500 pounds. 

    On the outside the Titan has a rugged, purposeful look. Inside, you'll find an attractive, user-friendly interior. There's room for a family of five or four burly fishermen. Titans range from utilitarian models with crank windows to leather-lined cabs befitting a luxury SUV. 

    The strong V8 engine gets the job done. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 13/18 mpg City/Highway with two-wheel drive. The Titan has the robustness and ability to deal with tough jobs and heavy loads, such as pulling a toy hauler full of dirt bikes and sand buggies. 

    The 2011 Titan carries over with minor changes: A 4x4 tailgate badge has been added to the 4WD versions. The other changes are all made to packaging and the model names to parallel other Nissan products: S replaces XE as the entry level, SV replaces SE as the mainline model, and SL replaces LE as the top-line model. Originally launched as a 2004 model, Titan was last re-engineered for the 2008 model year and was upgraded for 2010. 

    If you need a full-size pickup with power to perform and deal with heavy loads, and with plenty of room inside, and you'd also like the comfort and convenience of the Titan's level of refinement, then it definitely should be on your shopping list. 

    Lineup

    The 2011 Nissan Titan comes in 14 versions, sorted by cab style, cargo bed length, two-wheel or four-wheel drive (about $2800 more than 2WD), and trim level. 

    The King Cab, with its rearward-opening doors, is available in S, SV, and PRO-4X trim levels. The Crew Cab, with its full four-door configuration, is available in S, SV, PRO-4X, and SL trim. The PRO-4X models are available only with four-wheel drive; all the others offer a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long. Crew Cab models offer a cargo bed of 67.3 inches. Crew Cab SV is available with a long bed that measures 87.0 inches. 

    Titan King Cab S ($26,820) comes with cloth seating for six, full instrumentation, cruise control, split fold-up rear seats, 18-inch wheels. Titan Crew Cab S ($29,370) includes power windows and door locks. The S Popular Equipment Package for King Cab ($1,090) and Crew Cab ($1,140) adds alloy wheels, overhead center console, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, sliding rear window on King Cab, Class IV hitch receiver and seven-pin wiring harness, along with pre-wiring for a trailer brake controller. Accessories include a utility accessory package ($345), splashguards ($115), rear bumper step assist ($225), under-seat storage ($150), iPod interface ($270); and bedliner ($340). 

    Titan SV King Cab ($28,820) and Titan SV Crew Cab ($31,020) upgrade with alloy wheels, chrome bumpers, upholstery and seating upgrades, a CD changer, power mirrors, tailgate assist, sliding rear window, and conveniences such as remote keyless entry and illuminated visor mirrors. A long bed for SV Crew Cab is $450. The SV Value Truck Package ($1,350) includes cloth captain's chairs, eight-way power driver's seat, fog lights, Bluetooth, floor mats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass, rear proximity sensors, and other features. The SV Popular Equipment Package ($1,140) features interior trim upgrades. The SV Premium Utility Package ($1,910) includes a Rockford Fosgate audio system with 6CD changer and eight speakers, XM Satellite Radio, power-adjustable pedals, HomeLink garage-door opener, dual power and heated extendable tow mirrors, and a lot of utility features, including the Utili-track Bed Channel system, spray-on bedliner, lockable bedside storage, front tow hooks, a lower axle ratio for better pulling power, and other worthwhile items. The SV Utility Package ($950) includes the cargo-bed-related items from the Premium Utility Package. 

    Titan PRO-4X King Cab ($34,550) and Crew Cab ($36,750) come standard with four-wheel drive and larger, more aggressive tires, off-road suspension tuning, 3.36:1 axle gears, electronic locking rear differential, skid plates, body-color bumpers, unique upholstery and instruments, and double sun visors. The PRO-4X is similar to the SV in level of trim. Options include the Premium Utility Package ($1,560) with Rockford Fosgate sound system and bed equipment, and a Luxury Package ($2,230) that includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and memory for the driver's seat, pedals and outside mirrors. Crew Cab offers a Technology Package ($3,000) of moonroof, navigation, and rear-seat entertainment. 

    Titan SL Crew Cab ($39,620) features embroidered leather seats, a 350-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system with XM radio, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, woodgrain trim, Bluetooth, double overhead consoles, 20-inch wheels, fog lamps, and chrome power folding heated mirrors. Options include the Technology Package ($3,000), which includes a power moonroof and navigation, and the SL Max Utility Package ($500), which adds towing and utility enhancements. 

    Safety features include frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints, and electronic stability control with traction control. 

    Walkaround

    Everything about the appearance of the Nissan Titan is big and bold, from the expanse of chrome on the bumper and grille to the creased fenders. It fills up its space on the road and you won't mistake it for something else. This is a big, brawny pickup and looks it. 

    The Titan delivers a high level of function. Maximum payload tops 2,000 pounds on certain versions. Most Titans with tow or Utility packages are rated to tow 9,100- 9,500 pounds. The King Cab 2WD is rated for 7,400 pounds. Available towing features include extendable dual-element mirrors, a transmission temperature gauge, lower axle ratio, and other items. Also available is a cargo track retention system (bed sides and floor). An innovative storage box in the rear fender is ideal for wet tow straps, chains or tie-down straps. The locking tailgate is damped and assisted for easy open and close. This truck has been built for work. 

    King Cab versions have a cargo bed that measures 79.1 inches long (almost seven feet). Crew Cab models offer a shorter cargo bed, due to their longer body length, of 67.3 inches, which is a little less than six feet. The Crew Cab SV trim level is the only one available with a choice of a longer cargo bed that measures 87.0 inches, which is slightly over seven feet. However, the longer cargo bed comes with a wheelbase that is also about 20 inches longer, at 159.5 inches compared to 139.8 inches for the Crew Cab with the shorter bed, and that longer wheelbase could definitely hinder maneuverability in tighter spots. 

    Interior

    The cabin serves very well for truck duty yet with comfort and convenience. It's refined and is in every way a nice place to be for traveling, whether it's to the job site or towing the boat to the lake. 

    Dash and door panels are easy to wipe off plastic yet do not give the impression of cost-cutting in materials. The instrument layout provides complete information and has a coherent, sophisticated look. On PRO-4X models the gauges are white-faced and sporty. SL models have enough wood-like acreage to fit in a luxury utility. The Titan can be equipped with a six-person bench seat interior or with captain's chairs in front for a five-seat capacity. Our only complaint, and it's a little one, is the tilt-and-telescoping steering column adjustment that is spring-loaded and requires you to tilt-and-telescope the wheel with one hand while the other holds the release. 

    You sit high and comfortable in the Titan, not squeezed but not loosely floating about. Visibility is excellent to all corners, although shorter drivers may not like the large base on the windshield pillar. The view rearward is very good, especially with the tow mirrors. An optional rearview camera is available and we found it eased trailer hitching. 

    The center dash section has controls for audio, climate, navigation, and switching duty (tow mode, VDC-off, differential lock, etc.) with an integrated look. It looks good and easily provides plenty of space for things like the dual-zone climate control on SL models. 

    All controls are logical and sensibly arranged, although traditional pickup truck buyers who go for six seats will have to adapt to wipers and shifter on the same side of the wheel. With deep bins in the center console and smaller ones along the sides, big door and seatback pockets, and generous cup holders, you'll find a place to put virtually anything. 

    Entry and exit is simple. Running boards are available if you value deportment above ground clearance, but we often find running boards more in the way than helpful. 

    The rear doors on King Cabs swing almost 170 degrees for easy access and there's room back there for six-footers on short-to-moderate-length trips. Crew Cab rear seats are downright spacious and eclipsed only by the Toyota Tundra CrewMax. 

    You won't see any of the noise-reduction materials inside (unless you're under the dash installing a brake controller with the tow-package pigtail), but if you've ever been in an early (pre-2008) Titan you will notice the current models are much quieter and smoother. 

    Driving Impression

    The Nissan Titan has been recognized for its stout drivetrain. It comes standard with a 5.6-liter V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission. Although it doesn't have as much horsepower as others larger V8 choices or Dodge's Hemi, it's great on torque. We think a Titan will outrun many pickups and deliver competitive mileage to similar configurations; only the Tundra's 5.7-liter/6-speed automatic, Ford's 6.2 or twin-turbo 3.5/6-speed automatic and GM's 6.2-liter/6-speed automatic combinations challenge it. The exhaust keeps the V8 rumble so adored by truck buyers while eliminating the drone that could wear on long highway trips. 

    Fuel economy is not great, but it's generally within one mpg of the competition and your driving style is easily responsible for three times that amount. The EPA ratings are 13 mpg City, 18 mpg Highway with two-wheel drive and 12/17 mpg with four-wheel drive. If you want a vehicle with this level of capability, it will deliver this level of fuel economy. 

    We found the transmission responds smoothly and crisply as conditions dictate. A proper gated floor shift allows direct access to any gear without pressing any buttons, and a comfortable grip and good location adjacent to the driver's leg encourages one to use it. 

    Four-wheel drive and low range are electrically shifted by a rotary dash knob. The electric-locking rear differential (PRO-4X only) is more effective in severe terrain than the all-wheel electronic traction control of regular 4WD Titans and most competitors. There is no automatic 4WD setting for on-road use, but if the electronic traction aids and common sense aren't enough perhaps you should be in 4WD high range. 

    Pickup trucks aren't held in high regard for ride comfort or handling prowess yet they have made strides in both. The longer wheelbase only betters cruising comfort but even the short-wheelbase Titans will generate no complaints, at least not from anyone who knows what a ton of payload means. Off-road biased suspension tuning with lots of travel, Rancho shocks built specifically for it, and large tires on the PRO-4X contribute to ride softness without giving up control, while the 20-inch wheel/tire combo on SL models offers crisper turn-in for cornering but transmits bumps more. 

    The brakes have significant swept area, a prime indicator of braking capacity, and the Titan has performed well in braking performance tests. 

    Summary

    The 2011 Nissan Titan boasts a robust powertrain with responsive acceleration, good brakes, a comfortable cabin and plenty of feature choices. But pickups are all about carrying or towing stuff and the Titan will get those jobs done, with payload ratings that reach above 2,000 pounds, and good towing performance. 

    G.R. Whale filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Minneapolis. 

    Model Lineup

    Nissan Titan S King Cab 2WD ($26,820); S King Cab 4WD ($29,670); SV King Cab 2WD ($28,820); SV King Cab 4WD ($31,670); PRO-4X King Cab ($34,550); S Crew Cab 2WD ($29,370); S Crew Cab 4WD ($32,220); SV Crew Cab 2WD (short bed $31,020/long bed $31,470); SV Crew Cab 4WD (short bed $33,870/long bed $34,350); PRO-4X Crew Cab ($36,750); SL Crew Cab 2WD ($39,620); SL Crew Cab 4WD ($39,620). 

    Assembled In

    Canton, Mississippi. 

    Options As Tested

    PRO-4X Premium Utility Package ($1,560). 

    Model Tested

    Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X ($36,750). 

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    Read 2011 Nissan Titan SV 4x4 Crew Cab LWB reviews from auto industry experts to gain insight on the Nissan Titan's drivability, comfort, power and performance.
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